WAHOO – A spirited cross-town rivalry can’t stop the Wahoo area from uniting to support a resident who is battling cancer.
Bob Chvatal, who for 25 years has kept the facilities at Wahoo Public Schools operating smoothly, is fighting Stage 4 lung cancer.
He grew up in Malmo and has lived in Wahoo most of his adult life. He was a student and athlete at Bishop Neumann High School, where his wife, Missy, works and his children went to school, or in the case of his youngest, are still attending.
So when the two schools meet on the gridiron or the court, Chvatal is somewhat torn. He knows kids on both teams, and he’s proud of all of the students. But his heart still bleeds Cavalier scarlet.
“I like to see all the kids do well,” he said.
Representatives from both schools have organized a fundraiser for Chvatal that will take place during Friday night’s football game between the Warriors and the Cavaliers at Wahoo High School. The Pancake Man will be flipping hotcakes starting at 5 p.m. before the game and a silent auction will be held. Bidding will be cut off during the first quarter of the game, and the winners will be announced at half-time.
“Obviously, it’s a community-wide effort,” said Jarred Royal, principal at Wahoo High School.
Royal said initially two benefits were being planned, one by each school, but Chvatal asked that they do only one fundraiser. The two schools were only happy to oblige.
“It’s a spirited rivalry, but I think the community can come together to support Bob and his family tremendously,” said Royal.
Chvatal said he is stunned by the support he has already received from the people in the area, before the fundraiser has even taken place. He has received cards, calls, texts and messages from people who say they are praying for him and offer any assistance they can to help in his time of need.
“It’s overwhelming, the amount of support and prayers I’m getting from the people of the community,” he said.
Chvatal has been a Saunders County resident all of his life, so he naturally knows many people. His job at the school also brings him in contact with many members of the public.
“I know a lot of people around here and I guess a lot of people must know me,” he said.
The administration and staff at Wahoo Public Schools has also been extremely supportive, Chvatal said. They allow him to go home to rest if he is fatigued by the treatments.
“They’re taking good care of me also,” he said.
Chvatal has continued working through the treatment. He was diagnosed in July and started treatment shortly after. On Monday, he completed his fourth treatment.
“My energy level isn’t what is used to be, but I still try to do what I can,” he said.
The support and prayers have helped Chvatal stay positive. Staying active helps.
“I’ve got to be positive and I have to keep my mind occupied so I just don’t dwell on the bad things but on the good things,” he said.
The positive thoughts seem to have been working. Doctors recently informed him that the tumor in his lung has shrunk.
“That was such a relief to hear that,” he said.
Chvatal stays positive for his family as well. He and wife Missy have five children. The youngest, Mary, is a sophomore at Bishop Neumann. Chvatal stays busy following her games as a Cavalier softball player. Hadley plays softball and is a student at Wayne State College. Becca, another softball player in the family, is now a labor and delivery nurse in Norfolk. Their only son, Keith, is a chiropractor in Wahoo and was a football player at Morningside College when the team won a national championship. Their oldest daughter, Grace, recently completed an overseas deployment as a member of the Air Force National Guard.
Chvatal has also stayed active with the Neumann football team, keeping stats during games for several years. He was a member of the 1977 state championship team, the first one in the school’s history.
He attended Southeast Community College in Milford after graduating high school in 1978 and studied plumbing, heating and air conditioning. After working for several years with companies in Lincoln and Wahoo, he took the job at Wahoo Public Schools because someone asked him to apply. In March he will celebrate his 25th year with the school district.
Chvatal hopes to attend Friday’s game, but said the weather could be a factor. The forecast calls for cold temperatures that could keep him at home.
Even if he can’t be there in person, Chvatal will be there in spirit, cheering on his Cavaliers but also supporting his Warriors.
“It’s a special way to bring the two schools together,” he said.